Remembering Children's Book Author Maurice Sendak

Artist, illustrator, and writer Maurice Sendak died Tuesday at the age of 83. Sendak illustrated more than 80 books — 20 of which he wrote himself. He's best remembered for his children's classic Where The Wild Things Are. Host Michel Martin looks at the life and legacy of Maurice Sendak.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Finally today, we want to honor someone whose work fired the imaginations of many children and their parents. Award-winning author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died today at the age of 83.

Maurice Sendak is best known for that classic children's book "Where the Wild Things Are." He wrote and illustrated the story of the mischievous hero Max, who gets sent to bed without dinner and his imagination takes him to a land of colorful giant monsters.

"Where the Wild Things Are" was a huge hit when it was published in 1963, earning Maurice Sendak international acclaim and a Caldecott Medal. Sendak's other titles include "In the Night Kitchen," "Outside Over There," "Chicken Soup with Rice" and the recently published "Bumble-Ardy."

Sendak was born June 10th, 1928 - a year before the Great Depression. Sendak's parents were Jewish Polish immigrants and much of his extended family died in Nazi concentration camps. Sendak often said he didn't have a happy childhood. Here's a clip from an interview he did with NPR's Steve Inskeep in 2006.

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MAURICE SENDAK: I think it is unnatural to think that there is such a thing as a blue sky, white-clouded happy childhood for anybody. Childhood is a very, very, tricky business of surviving it.

MARTIN: "My Brother's Book," a book written and illustrated by Sendak, is scheduled to be published next February.

And we want to leave you with a reading by NPR's Tom Cole of Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are."

TOM COLE: (Reading) Max said, be still and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once. And they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things. And now, cried Max, let the wild rumpus start.

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MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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